CO2-energy / climate justice contention on Indigenously-backed fossil fuel projects


in PhD thesis, Politics, The environment

My PhD dissertation highlights the distinction between the CO2-energy and climate justice worldviews in climate change organizing.

Put briefly:

[C]limate justice (CJ) activists emphasized the linkages between climate change and other justice issues in both diagnosing the causes of climate change and in crafting their political strategy to control it, insisting that only revolutionary political and economic changes like the overthrow of capitalism will let humanity preserve a stable climate. This analysis and prescription is challenged by CO2-energy (CO2-e) activists who see climate change as fundamentally about fossil fuel energy, with a solution that lies in replacing coal, oil, and gas.

One area where the two viewpoints can be clearly distinguished is how to respond to Indigenously-backed fossil fuel energy projects. The climate justice viewpoint holds that environmentalists should be led by and not criticize Indigenous peoples. For them, if the Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi ‘it community in BC wants to build a coal mine, it is at least much harder to oppose while maintaining their values than the same project proposed by someone else. For CO2-e activists, it is about the fuel to be burned and not the identity of those benefitting, and so it is unproblematic to resist fossil fuel projects regardless of their backers.


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